EUA Vice-President Rahier calls for multidisciplinarity in next FP
In an editorial in the Parliament Magazine, Martine Rahier, Vice-President of the European University Association (EUA) and Former Rector of the University of Neuchâtel, comments on the next EU Framework Programme. She stresses that investing best in research and innovation is not only about "putting our money behind new scientific discoveries and technological devices engineered to better our individual lives", but increasingly also about how to better address Europe’s important societal challenges.
According to Ms. Rahier, long-term public funding, such as that provided by the Framework Programme, is crucial to stimulate innovation based on fundamental and applied research. True multidisciplinarity, including the full integration of social sciences and humanities, is also a must for addressing issues such as energy and climate change, poverty and ageing societies, migration and extremism, but also for expanding understanding of impact and innovation. The EUA sees these disciplines as not sufficiently included in the FP at present, illustrated by the fact that partners who work in these disciplines only get 22% of the budget flagged for topics linked to social sciences and humanities. Even though fields such as economics and sociology are well represented, project partners from these disciplines often only perform auxiliary roles in research projects.
For the next FP, the EUA Vice-President calls for "more nuanced understanding of the way innovation systems work" and for developing "new ways to evaluate multidisciplinary research projects to capture their scientific and societal impact". Societal readiness levels for new discoveries are hard to assess and require a more sophisticated set of indicators to capture the complexity of the innovation system. Ms. Rahier also calls for "clearer outlines of the general components of multidisciplinarity in research projects" as well as user-friendly descriptions of requirements and for explicity fostering “disciplinary mobility”. Evaluation panels should include reviewers with a variety of expertise.
This editorial was first published on the Parliament Magazine website on 4 December 2017.